[ Epub ] ❦ Earthly Powers Author Anthony Burgess – 1sm.info

Earthly Powers Anthony Burgess, Author Of A Clockwork Orange, Is Regarded As One Of The Most Original And Daring Writers In The English Language His Work Is Illuminated By A Dazzling Imagination, By A Gift For Character And Plot, By A Talent For Surprise In Earthly Powers Burgess Created His Masterpiece At Its Center Are Two Twentieth Century Men Who Represent Different Kinds Of Power Kenneth Toomey, Eminent Novelist, A Man Who Has Outlived His Contemporaries To Survive Into Honored, Bitter, Luxurious Old Age As A Celebrity Of Dubious Notoriety And Don Carlo Campanati, A Man Of God, Eventually Beloved Pope, Who Rises Through The Vatican As A Shrewd Manipulator To Become The Architect Of Church Revolution And A Candidate For Sainthood Through The Lives Of These Two Modern Men Burgess Explores The Very Essence Of Power As Each Pursues His Career One To Sainthood, One To Wealthy Exile Their Relationship Becomes The Heart Of A Narrative That Incorporates Almost Everyone Of Fame And Distinction In The Social, Literary, And Political Life Of America And Europe This Astonishing Company Is Joined Together By The Art Of A Great Novelist Into An Explosive And Entertaining Tour De Force That Will Captivate Fans Of Sweeping Historic Fiction This is a hell of a book.It took me about two and a half months to read, even though it s not one of the longest books I ve read That s cause this sucker is DENSE no book for someone looking for an easy read.The narrator, Kenneth Toomey, is a British novelist, now in his eighties, looking back over his life Despite the fact that he is openly homosexual, officials from the Catholic Church want him to write for them an account about the recently deceased pope, Gregory XVII, or Carlo Campanat This is a hell of a book.It took me about two and a half months to read, even though it s not one of the longest books I ve read That s cause this sucker is DENSE no book for someone looking for an easy read.The narrator, Kenneth Toomey, is a British novelist, now in his eighties, looking back over his life Despite the fact that he is openly homosexual, officials from the Catholic Church want him to write for them an account about the recently deceased pope, Gregory XVII, or Carlo Campanati The two men have lived fairly entwined lives Ken s sister marries Carlo s brother, and they become a sort of family Both Toomey and Campanati are brilliantly realized characters The arch, snooty voice of Toomey sells the whole book, as he relates the stories of his fame and notoriety But Carlo is a mystery of sorts, a solid man who believes that evil is an outside force, that man is basically good But does Toomey share that view Not quiteI was hoping this wasn t one of those here s how my characters live through the various incidents of a historical period novels, and it wasn t Though Toomey and Campanati encounter Italian fascists, Nazi propogandists, and groovy Californian cult leaders, the characters never take a back seat to events the events inform usabout the characters I really appreciated that.All I ve known of Burgess is his admittedly impressive Clockwork Orange, but after Earthly Powers my interest is piqued Definitely one of the most unique and memorable books I ve read this year Some people really like this big old thing But it was yet another in the tedious catalogue of huge masculine overbearing egomaniacal penis novels about a Big Man like, say, I the Supreme or Illywacker or Gould s Book of Fish or The Book of Evidence or Mein Kampf boy, there s a lot of em And it s the egomaniac s voice who narrates it So you volunteer to have the guy bending your inner ear for page after page and no break Maybe some readers channel their inner masochist and lie back and wall Some people really like this big old thing But it was yet another in the tedious catalogue of huge masculine overbearing egomaniacal penis novels about a Big Man like, say, I the Supreme or Illywacker or Gould s Book of Fish or The Book of Evidence or Mein Kampf boy, there s a lot of em And it s the egomaniac s voice who narrates it So you volunteer to have the guy bending your inner ear for page after page and no break Maybe some readers channel their inner masochist and lie back and wallow in the hurling of the testosterone Not me I chucked it at the wall quite quickly I could hear its fans screeching and clawing each other in genuine horror But really, wordsmithery and large braininess will not save a book from the wall hurl The tone of voice was like the clench of rat claws on a biscuit tin lid and I chose not to have that particular voice jabbering and gibbering and mewling in my ear for 600 pages That two star rating might be a little unfair I actually had fun reading large chunks of the book If all you re looking for is something entertaining to read, and you enjoy British snark and bitchiness, then this is the ticket As a work of literature, however, it fell far short And since it purports to seriously discuss the problem of good and evil, I think that s a fair yardstick This is not, at the end of the day, the novelistic equivalent of Monty Python The novel follows the life of Ke That two star rating might be a little unfair I actually had fun reading large chunks of the book If all you re looking for is something entertaining to read, and you enjoy British snark and bitchiness, then this is the ticket As a work of literature, however, it fell far short And since it purports to seriously discuss the problem of good and evil, I think that s a fair yardstick This is not, at the end of the day, the novelistic equivalent of Monty Python The novel follows the life of Kenneth Toomey, eminent novelist and very closeted gay man Through him, we also follow the life of his sister, Hortense Toomey, and her husband, as well as the lives of her husband s family, the most notable member of which, Don Carlo Campanati, eventually becomes the pope This is no spoiler, by the way, as the novel starts towards the end of Toomey s life when he is asked to provide evidence to support Don Carlo s proposed canonisation, and then jumps back to the beginning to explain how we got to that stage What is good and what is evil looms large as a theme Good actions in the novel turn out to have disastrous evil results, while bad actions turn out to have good ones So, for example, Toomey accidentally saves a man from being shot and later it turns out that the man is Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Nazi genocide In a related example, a Jewish novelist living in Austria sends his son into Toomey s care to save him from the Nazis The son turns out to be a nasty, lazy thief However, when Toomey finds stolen British passports among his loot, he realises that he can use one of the passports to try to get the novelist out of Austria The whole thing reminded me of a Chinese folktale which goes like this A poor man lived in a village with his family One day, his only horse ran away and his neighbours bemoaned his misfortune The man just shrugged his shoulders and kept silent The next day, the mare came back With her was a powerful stallion, which had been attracted to her The man s neighbours congratulated him for his good luck The man just shrugged his shoulders and kept silent A week later, the man s son tried to ride the stallion and broke his leg He became lame as a result The man s neighbours bemoaned his misfortune, but once again the man simply shrugged his shoulders and kept silent A month later, the Emperor started a war and all the young men from the village were rounded up to join the Imperial Army The man s son was spared because of his lameness The man s neighbours congratulated him, but as ever the man simply shrugged his shoulders and kept silent One of the morals of the tale is that you can never tell whether something that happens is good luck or bad luck, so you just have to accept things as they happen with equanimity Earthly Powers turns that philosophical question into one about good and evil It might even have earned three or four stars on that basis as Burgess tells his story with a good dose of brio However, and this is a huge however, Burgess ruins it all by bringing in the devil To me, at least, once you actually bring the devil onstage, which he does not once but twice via two full on exorcisms, then all question of good and evil goes out the window The devil is the incarnation of Evil When you have spinning heads and projectile vomit what is there to discuss The question then becomes less philosophical but theological, and you get the obligatory discussions about, How can God be all good and all powerful when he created Lucifer knowing that he would fall from grace How can God allow the devil to continue to exist instead of just destroying him Well, the answers are put into Don Carlo s mouth as he gives the bog standard Catholic explanation of free will as to why Unfortunately, the rest of the novel then starts to look like Burgess making his puppets jump through hoops to illustrate why this answer doesn t wash The hero of the novel is eventually held up to be Toomey s elder brother, Tom, a nice little man who led a good quiet inoffensively uneventful life as a comedian who told not very funny, inoffensive jokes We even have a skit about him playing a parent warning his children named Kenneth and Hortense not to stick their hands into dark dangerous places So, in the end, it turns out that Burgess s answer to the problem of good and evil is pretty much the same as the point of that old Chinese folktale whose other moral, by the way, is that we shouldn t try to change things because we can t tell whether the results of our actions will be good or bad Best to just leave things alone So, oppressed workers and Africans really shouldn t try changing their lot And yes communism and black rights do get swipes in the novel as well Well, if you re a rich white man, telling the rest of the world that they should just leave things as they are is all very convenient Sorry, but that doesn t wash Mix that in with the actual existence of the devil and what you get is a confused mess really Two stars, despite the somewhat nasty laughs A monumental novel, recently back in print, that has stuck in my mind for thirty years as an all time favorite but needed to be reread to remind me why An octogenarian British writer, asked to attest to a miracle that will support canonization of a Pope writes his memoirs, giving us a personal tour of the 20th century through his life as a homosexual, lapsed Catholic, successful but mediocre writer, and exile Examines morality, the nature of evil, the role of religious belief andLinguis A monumental novel, recently back in print, that has stuck in my mind for thirty years as an all time favorite but needed to be reread to remind me why An octogenarian British writer, asked to attest to a miracle that will support canonization of a Pope writes his memoirs, giving us a personal tour of the 20th century through his life as a homosexual, lapsed Catholic, successful but mediocre writer, and exile Examines morality, the nature of evil, the role of religious belief andLinguistically playful, the novel features one of the best opening lines in literature, and is funny, painful, thought provoking, entertaining, challenging and rewarding Thoroughly magnificent

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